The Best Way To See Victoria in 24 Hours
If I could describe Victoria in a nutshell, it would be health conscious, environmentally friendly, and witchy. Oh yes, the supernatural obsession is strong in the British Columbia capitol! I went in the lead-up to Halloween, and the Market Square became Market Scare– that’s how serious Victoria is about the supernatural!
Although Victoria is also known in B.C. as the retirement capitol, there are plenty of things to do and see for young people in the beautiful Vancouver Island city! It was incredibly refreshing to be in a small city filled with plenty of local shops, eco-friendly initiatives and incredible gluten-free and vegan eats.
At just a quick ferry ride away from the mainland, Victoria is a great day trip from Vancouver. It’s also an excellent first stop to get a taste of some of Canada’s most beautiful nature or as a leap-off point for a Vancouver Island road trip. Either way, it makes for an incredible 24 hours in Victoria!
The Best Day-Trip To Victoria, B.C.
Breakfast at Mo:Lé
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it your own? At Mo:Lé, almost everything can be made vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, which gives you ample wiggle room for whatever your sleepy stomach desires! And believe me, everything on their menu sounds absolutely delicious.
I was starving though, so my brain went its hungry-at-the-grocery-store place and wanted to eat everything on the menu. Thankfully, they had a build-your-own breakfast section, which was exactly what I needed. I ordered the gluten-free toast with avocado, roasted mushrooms and roasted tomato. I’m glad I didn’t also order the vegan scrambled tofu, as my eyes were not only bigger than my stomach– they were almost bigger than the two-person table I sat at!
For Mo:Lé’s full menu, click here.
Address: 554 Pandora Ave.
Hours: Mon–Fri 8 am–3 pm; Weekends 8 am–4 pm
Fan Tan Alley
After breakfast, take a little stroll down North America’s narrowest street. Located between Fisgard Avenue and Pandora Avenue, Fan Tan Alley is one of the most historic spots in China town. Up until 1908, Fan Tan Alley was known for its opium factories. After the drug was outlawed, the alley earned its current name because of the popular Chinese gambling game, Fan Tan. Nowadays, the alley is a popular tourist spot with many cute shops in between the two buildings!
Fun fact! Victoria’s China Town is the second oldest in North America after San Fransisco.
Directions: Mo:Lé to Fan Tan Alley
Once you’ve had your fill exploring Fan Tan Alley, make your way over to Bastion Square. From the end of April through until October 1st, there are markets Thursday through Sunday. I was able to find a couple of small gifts for family friends, but I was also blown away at the beauty of the square! The staircase leading up to the square from the harbour front is quite grand. And the amount of flowers in this small square rivals that of European cities!
Directions: Fan Tan Alley to Bastion Square
After checking out the Bastion Market and square, head over to Market Square for some unique local shops! My personal favourite was The Copper Hat, which sells safety razors and bamboo tooth brushes! Environmentalism runs strong in Victoria, so I thought I’d give up some plastics to fit in. There are also a couple of shop collectives in and around the Market Square that showcase local artisans. Plus, it’s home to one of Victoria’s oldest vegetarian-turned-vegan restaurants, Green Cuisine!
Directions: Bastion Square to Market Square
Lunch at Green Cuisine
Green Cuisine is your one stop shop for cheap vegan eats in Victoria! The restaurant is an institution in Market Square, as it’s been a vegetarian spot for about 25 years and fully vegan in more recent years. The buffet-style diner has plenty of gluten-free options to choose from and is pay-by-weight. There are some items that are sold individually, like their delicious gluten-free corn bread, but the staff will let you know what’s including and what’s not. I was starving, so I definitely filled up my plate and it came to under $15 including a craft root beer! Cheap, delicious, and oh so filling!!
For Green Cuisine’s partial menu, click here.
Address: #5-560 Johnson St.
Hours: 10 am–8 pm daily
Take a stroll along harbour front
After a filling lunch, walk down Government Street down to Victoria’s harbour. The view of the harbour is absolutely spectacular with its tug boat traffic, and sea planes taking off and landing at the mouth of the harbour. The buildings lining the harbour along Government Street and Belleville Street are also quite impressive!
Three of my favourite buildings to see were the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum, and British Columbia Legislature.
The Empress is one of Victoria’s oldest hotels, and was built to encourage travel across Canada by Canada Pacific Railway. It’s part of the Fairmont hotel chain, which also owns the iconic Chateau Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta, and the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.
Just down the street is the Royal BC Museum, which is renowned for its exhibits on First Nations languages, and logging history in the province. Opposite the Royal BC Museum is the rather impressive legislature building.
From Belleville Street, continue along the harbour until it leads you to…
Stop off at one of Victoria’s most unique neighbourhoods– Fisherman’s Wharf. The colourful homes are easy to spot as you walk along the harbour front because they’re floating off of the pier! Float homes along the British Columbia coast are remnants of early 20th century logging camps. This particular community of 33 float homes was built in 1948. The houses float on cement bases, old wooden barges, metal pontoons or plastic-encased foam blocks.
The residents live here year-around, so be respectful if you plan to visit this cute little neighbourhood. Please don’t stare into people’s homes. Most of their windows are at the rear of the home, but regardless, it is possible to admire the fun, colourful homes without peaking inside.
Directions: Fisherman’s Wharf to Ogden Point breakwater
The Unity Wall at Ogden Point (Na’Tsa’maht)
One of Victoria’s most iconic landmarks is the Unity Wall at Ogden Point, also known as Na’Tsa’macht. For thousands of years, Canada’s Indigenous people inhabited the land which would become what we now call Victoria. In 1916, a 850-metre breakwater was installed in anticipation of a massive increase in trade from vessels. And up until 2009, the breakwater was barren.
But in 2009, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority sponsored Na’Tsa’macht, or the Unity Wall, which transformed the breakwater into Canada’s largest mural. Butch Dick of the Songhees Nation and Darlene Gait of the Esquimalt Nation mentored emerging youth artists to create the Unity Wall. Teams of six young people painted their mentor’s original designs on the two phases of Na’Tsa’macht. And each of them were able to create an image in the mural.
This celebration of Indigenous culture and art makes for an incredible walk along the breakwater, and demonstrates solidarity with the Indigenous people who inhabited the land before European colonization.
If you have time before dinner, consider checking out the Ogden Point sundial, Beacon Park, or ‘Mile 0’ of the TransCanada highway before making your way back to Victoria’s downtown core.
Directions: Ogden Point breakwater to Be Love
Dinner at Be Love
After a full day of exploring some of the beautiful city of Victoria, treat yourself to a healthful plant-based dinner at Be Love. I was initially drawn to the restaurant because of their decadent seasonal fall fettuccine alfredo, which was vegan and gluten-free. But after a long day of exploring the city, my stomach changed its mind and I ended up ordering their delicious Green Bowl. It was a Thai coconut green curry bowl filled with dark greens, broccoli, bok choy, onion, zucchini & cabbage on brown rice with avocado, toasted cashews, cilantro and scallions.
As it was a bit chilly out, I also got Mama’s Magic, a hot tonic filled with ginger, lemon, cayenne and honey. It was the perfect amount of food, and it was great experiencing some vegan high dining!
For Be Love’s full menu, click here.
Address: 1019 Blanshard St.
Hours: Sunday–Thursday 11 am–9:30 pm; Friday & Saturday 11 am–10 pm
What are your favourite spots to visit in Victoria?
Share them with me down below! If you’re in the city for another day or so, be sure to head up to the Butchart Gardens or check out these incredible activities to do on Vancouver Island. I had planned to visit the gardens while I was in Victoria, but it was raining the day I was meant to go. So if you have been before, please share your stories down below as well! (Or send me some photos of you on Vancouver Island via social media!)
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For more posts about British Columbia, click here.
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